Pumpkin Pie
by Karla ° Thursday, October 19, 2006
One of the greatest things about Toronto is its multiculturalism. We are second, (behind Miami) for our foreign born population.

I grew up in a very small town and was never exposed to a Multicultural Mecca like Toronto before moving here. It’s been the most fabulous, eye opening experience to meet, mingle, befriend and learn about humanity through the eyes of those who are far worldlier than me.

Sometimes though, it’s easy to forget that common celebrations or cultural norms here in our Western culture may come across as bizarrely peculiar to those who aren’t familiar with our traditions.

Take for example, a pumpkin. Although a horrific and gaudy shade of orange, it's innocent enough looking, the main ingredient in pumpkin pie and its an iconic Halloween tradition to carve them.

Every year my husband’s office holds a pumpkin carving contest. One year, a relatively new employee (who hadn’t been in Canada very long), participated in the festivities and like a good sport, helped his team members gut and carve their gourd.

After the judging, each team got to pick one lucky person to take home the disemboweled orange masterpiece. When Mark offered the pumpkin to the new guy, he hesitated and looked at the lopsided toothy grinning gourd in befuckled bewildered until finally he said, “I can’t possible take it home with me. I don’t know how to cook it!”

Can you imagine what that poor guy must have been thinking? He’s barely unpacked the boxes that have journeyed far and abroad to get to this country, and here his coworkers are sacrificing pumpkins gutted from a removable head piece in an assumingly frightful pie baking ritual.

Between fits of hysterical laughter I realized that along the way I must have had (and most likely still have) my share of cultural faux pas.

Care to share any of yours?

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That's a great story! I needed the laugh! Thanks!!
Posted by Blogger Beth :  October 19, 2006

I've never heard of this carving pumpkins thing you do in Canada.
Posted by Blogger Kurt :  October 19, 2006

That's one of the things I love about Toronto too. It's not very fashionable, out here in the west, to love Toronto, but I do anyway. :-)

I once talked to someone from Africa who was quite horrified that we eat pumpkins, because where he came from, they were only fed to animals.
Posted by Blogger Heather :  October 19, 2006

I'm not sure what part of the West Heather is from ? But I live in BC and was born and raised here and carving pumpkins are a huge thing out our way hence the trips to the pumpkin patch that most local elementary schools take the kiddies on ! Fireworks are another big thing out this way on Halloween too !
Posted by Anonymous Lora :  October 19, 2006

When I was much younger, in grade school, I was presented with a homemade tamale (the best kind!) at my friend's house, whose family was Latino.

I picked it up and took a small bite, chewing suspiciously and trying not to make a face because it tasted horrible.

Then, they all burst out laughing because I had taken a bite of the CORN HUSK that they wrap it in when they cook it. You are supposed to take it off to reveal the soft and yummy tamale inside.

I was totally embarassed, but I could see how it was funny. I forgive them for laughing. ;)
Posted by Blogger Gina :  October 19, 2006

I have a friend who was hosting a couple from Tailand one fall. The woman kept noticing pumpkins on porches and commenting - "Squash! Your people like squash! Our people like squash, too."

After a few miles of driving my friend just turned to the woman and explained as best she could - "There is nothing in our language that could help you understand why we carve up our squash like that."

Fun with food, I guess!

Judy - Anybody Home - www.judyh58.blogspot.com
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  October 19, 2006

Thanks for your comment on Lost - great to see a fellow fan!

As for cultural comment, I suppose my LACK of multi-cultural intelligence would be my greatest faux pas.
Posted by Blogger Kate :  October 20, 2006

I think (but can't be bothered to check)that TO is the most multicultually diverse city.
Posted by Blogger Anvilcloud :  October 20, 2006

I, thank God, haven't had any cultural faux pas, at least, not that I know of! But this one had me crackin' up!! Poor guy!!
Posted by Anonymous arlene :  October 20, 2006

I lived in TO many years ago. My first Halloween there, we strolled down Young Street. I was amazed! What fun.. and it was mustly grown people. :-)
Posted by Anonymous Coll :  October 21, 2006

That is such a funny story!! I live in Florida, and we have many foreign born residents, as well. Too hilarious!


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